Residents across the five boroughs were shocked when they received their latest utility bill from Con Ed and saw dramatic spikes, with some seeing their monthly bills double or even triple.
It was a rude awakening about out reliance on fossil fuels and the economic costs, not to mention the environmental ones, associated with that reliance.
There is no short-term solution to that problem, only long-term steps that we need to take before the consequences are more than economic.
But for many, keeping up with their utility bills didn’t just become a reality this month.
Many low-income New Yorkers who were most affected by the pandemic have been making tough decision for the better part of two years about which bills they are going to pay. When it comes to paying for food or the gas bill, the choice is a difficult but obvious one.
According to data from the Public Service Commission, New Yorkers owe more than $1.7 billion on their gas and electric bills. The state’s ban on utility shutoffs has expired, so that means many of them face losing heat, hot water, electricity or internet.
New York State has received billions in federal help since the start of the pandemic. In just the first 30 days of legal online sports betting, the state has raked in $70 million in tax revenue. For the first time in a long time, the state budget is predicting surpluses.
The state should use this surplus to help New Yorkers who have been struggling with their utility bills long before the recent increases shocked the rest of us.